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Rights of Beneficiaries

If you have been appointed as a beneficiary to an estate, or are considering appointing someone as a beneficiary, find out your rights and duties in our guide.

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What Rights do Beneficiaries have?

A beneficiary of a Will has a right to receive their inheritance; whilst the executor is responsible for administering the assets and paying out any money, it’s crucial to know where your legal rights as a beneficiary stand.

These rights include receiving estate accounts if you are a residuary beneficiary and challenging or removing an executor if you are concerned they have been mismanaging or stealing from the estate.

Rowlinsons Solicitors’ Probate Solicitors are on hand to guide you through your rights as a beneficiary, giving you the advice you need to ensure your legal rights remain protected throughout the probate process.

What is a Beneficiary of a Will?

A beneficiary is someone named to inherit in a Will, being left assets such as property, land or money in the deceased’s Will.

Roles of Beneficiaries

If you are a beneficiary named in the Will, you may inherit property or other assets. You have the right to be told if you are named in a person's Will, what has been left to you and how much.

Officially, this does not mean you have the right to see the Will. Once probate is granted the Will becomes a public document and anyone can look at it, but until then any beneficiaries have to ask the executor if they would like to see the Will.

If probate is required, you cannot receive your entitlement before the executor obtains the grant of probate.

While you only have legal rights on your share of the estate once it has been administered, you are entitled to receive updates on how the probate process is going.

Sometimes, it may seem as if the executor is not progressing probate fast enough or providing adequate updates throughout the proceedings. A solicitor can help if you’re feeling unsure and need help.

What are my rights as a beneficiary?

As a beneficiary of a Will, you will have legal rights on your share of the assets only upon the estate’s administration. You are, however, entitled to receive updates on the progress throughout.

You are also entitled to know if you are named in a person’s Will, what property or possessions have been left to you (if any), and the amount of inheritance you will receive. However, you will not be allowed the inheritance until probate has been conducted and any assets or finances have been encashed or transferred into your name.

The executors should keep a detailed account of any assets to show to beneficiaries upon request.


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Paying Beneficiaries of a Will

Before the executor can make distributions to the beneficiaries of any assets, they must ensure they pay all debts, taxes and administration costs; this can be a frustrating process for beneficiaries, as the wait time before receiving any distributions can take some time. However, this is the final step, as the executor can be held liable should they release assets to beneficiaries without any left over to pay outstanding debts.

The complexity of the estate entirely determines when this final step occurs. A small estate, for example, might move through the probate process within just a few months. Whereas more complex estates may take years to reach the final stage.

How Does an Executor Pay Beneficiaries?

Executors can distribute the assets following the Will’s instructions after the issue of a Grant of Probate. For distributing the estate, there is a strict order of priority:

  • Pecuniary legacy: gifting a fixed sum of money to a particular person
  • Residual legacy: the amount left for distribution after tax, debts, and other legacies have been paid

Common Issues Beneficiaries May Face

Issues could arise for beneficiaries throughout the process if they feel the executor is not progressing probate quickly enough. The executor could also be unclear on progress or not providing updates fast enough.

Issues that could arise include:

  • Delays in applying for probate
  • Delays in administering assets once probate is granted
  • Lack of information provided
  • Non-disclosure of accounts

If you are not sure about the process or you think an executor is taking too long in administering the estate, our Probate Solicitors are here to help.

Call us today for an initial no-obligation call, or click here for a callback. We also have meeting facilities in North Wales for Family Law Clients.